The Machine

I stood alone, overlooking the cityscape for the final time. It had been weeks since the last car had been driven and the smog had finally left the city. I inhaled, filling my lungs with the crisp evening air. The streets, wet from the recent rain, reflected the glow of the beaming and blinking billboards in a rainbow of neon hues. My eyes followed a pair of officers walking down the road, tasing rifles in hand, knocking on the windows of the darkened vehicles while their eyes glowed like torchlight, illuminating the dark interiors.

But they found nothing and continued forward, their heavy footsteps slowly disappearing as they turned the corner. They wouldn’t find anyone else, I felt sure of it. I had gotten them all out of the city. The few who refused, insistent that the Machines wouldn’t do them harm because they had always treated them kindly, respectfully, “like a human being,” died when the Patrols reached them.

I led the humans blindfolded into the land where the machines would never go, and then returned to the city, for I was a liability. I was as dangerous as the machines to them, yet as fragile as a human. It hurt most to leave Sarah behind. One day, sometime will tell her why I left, and I hope she will understand.

 The wind picked up, tearing at my long coat, pushing me this way and then that way. I closed my eyes as the dark evening clouds spat on me and relished the feeling of the cold wetness on my cheeks. If only I had seen the beauty in the world when I had the time to appreciate it, rather than spending my years modifying myself into a machine.

The door clanged open and I turned to face her. She had let the silicone facade slough off to reveal her steel skull but she kept her torchlight eyes set to a low glow, which I knew was for my benefit so as to not blind me. Her heels clicked as she walked across, and the lab coat ruffled in the breeze. She didn’t want to look like them, but she would still dress like them.

“You don’t have to do this,” she said. Her voice was calm and soothing, like all the other machines of her prototype.“The Network decreed cyborgs are fine, you’re still part of our web, after all.”

I shook my head. My password-protected memories would only hold out so long. Eventually, the engineers would get in, and they would find where I had taken the people. They mustn’t know that any more humans exist. “I’ve made my choice.”

She spread out her hands in a mimicry of shrugging. Didn’t they see that they weren’t different from humans? “Alright, then turn around and get on your knees. It will be quick.”

I followed her directions and stared at the smiling billboard lit across the building. It was a woman holding a newborn, barely older than thirty, with two other women of a similar age grinning with their arms around her. ‘Cybernetics keeps me young and lets me enjoy my granddaughter!’ the bold text exclaimed.

I felt her blade cut into the back of my neck, cutting out a chunk of flesh to access the panel embedded into the top of my spine. I felt grateful that I had taken the suggestion to deactivate my pain sensors now. I felt a tight pressure as her fingers gripped the wires that kept me conscious.

“Goodnight,” she said softly, and then yanked out my wires until the world went dark.

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